In the third of three Artistic Legacies films, Ballroom legend Kimiyah Prescott opens up about how she grew from the rigid and repressive rules of an extremely religious household to find freedom through expression in the ballroom community. As Kimiyah prepares for an upcoming performance, she tells us what liberation feels like. And how once she experienced it, she never looked back.
CREDITS: CREATOR AND EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: IMARA JONES | PRODUCER: TILER WILSON | PRODUCER: RUBY ROSE COLLINS | PRODUCER: SOPHIA KIAPOS | EDITOR: GRACIE SIMONETT | DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: NICHOLAS LATTIMORE | ASSISTANT CAMERA: ETIENNE PELISSIER | SOUND MIXER: ZACH SALEM-MACKALL | COLORIST: MICHAEL SCHATZ | DIGITAL STRATEGIST: DANIELA “DANI” CAPISTRANO | SPECIAL THANKS TO: JORDYN JAY, BTFA, AND KIMIYAH
ABOUT ARTISTIC LEGACIES
Artistic Legacies explores the power of the Black Trans Femmes in the Arts (BTFA) collective through the stories of Founder Jordyn Jay, artist and musician/songwriter Iman Hill, and ballroom legend Kimiyah Prescott. This three-part docuseries shows how these members use artistic expression to change themselves and the world around them, bringing hope to the most of the marginalized at a time of unprecedented violence and political attack. Artistic Legacies points to how we can create brighter futures by using what’s already inside each of us. The 200-strong BTFA demonstrates how to manifest these possibilities.
KIMIYAH’S STORY: TRANSCRIPT
I got into the hint of ballroom when I got into high school. People tell me like you’re a star, but I don’t think you know it yet, and I used to be like I know I’m a star but what could I do to take it to the next level?
*Washing hair* Washing… Yes, It’s jet black.
My parents is Caribbean. And, you know, my father is a pastor. So, you know, I was very sheltered. I wasn’t able to like be outside and socialize with a lot of people.
I was battling living a double life and hiding myself from the world.
My parents would usually drop me off halfway to school, so they dropped by the train station. But my best friend at the time lived like down the block.
So I would go to her house and I would change my clothes into whatever I wanted to wear, whether it was a skirt or some cute sandals or just like even just do little things like do my makeup a little bit.
And when I got home, I used to stop around the corner from my house and I would like take it off and then go in the house like nothing happened.
*Kimiyah on the phone* I’m running on 20 minutes of sleep, but yeah, I have to get ready for this ball girl. And my dress isn’t even here yet. I got my ticket.
I wasn’t going to back down. I wasn’t going to change who I was for anybody. When I got to ballroom, just seeing people that are unapologetic and just living in their truth and being happy, I wanted that.
When I got into high school and I saw my friend, her name is Tati, voguing. She just went spin in the air into a dip, and I was like, what is that? Whatever that is, I need to learn it.
We ended up going to HMI and I saw all these gay people and I’m like, wait, there’s more of me.
From there, I just kept practicing and perfecting my craft. Brought me to my first ball, and even then I was like, Wow, it’s underground. It’s lights the big speaker. It was just crazy. It was like, I need to I want to be a part of this. I want to be a part of this, so badly.
*Kimiyah walking up to venue* Hi, i’m so sorry. Thank you. Thank you for coming. You okay. Oh, shit. Damn. She got somebody in the chair. Come on. I’m about to tell her right now.
My ballroom career took off. Then I joined the Iconic House of Juicy Couture, which is like my second family. I love them so dearly.
I’m confident in who I am. I’m confident in what I do. I’m confident in anything that I put my mind to do.
Being able to vogue and showcase like my talent and me being the only one on stage, I feel like I’m on another level.
I just always try to think like what is the next best thing I could do?
People say “wow, watching you just inspired me to go out there and do my thing.” That’s what makes you legendary.
WHY TRANSLASH HONORS BLACK TRANS WOMEN
Black trans femmes have historically been the first to stand up for LGBTQ+ and women’s rights, while also disproportionately facing the most anti-LGBT+ and anti-Black violence. We at TransLash want to give our Black trans femme siblings their flowers 24-7. Our #BlackTransArtisticLegacies campaign is part of our mission of telling trans stories to save trans lives.
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